I have to say that over my months of travelling there is one place which I KNEW was going to cost me a small fortune… and that it did… A small part of my heart (the part that finds shopping a very acceptable and cathartic hobby!) will always live in NYC particularly around sale time…
When Esta first suggested to me that I consider going there for Thanksgiving I thought it would be a lovely way to experience a new part of New York and the culture of America. When she mentioned crazy sales I was sold… J After finally having confirmation that I had gotten the position at Telstra International, I packed (very lightly) and got ready to go to NYC. Now, for me packing very lightly usually means coming in somewhere below my 20kg limit… When I left Australia I somehow managed to get 28kgs on the plane without paying for it, with another 15kg or so on carryon… But I digress - I set off for the US with two pairs of jeans, two t-shirts, a few pairs of underwear and some socks. I also packed my 65L backpack into my suitcase (the suitcase I got for free when mine got slightly damaged on my flight over from Aus - I really scored on that flight!!!). The plan was to fill it all up on the way back.
Although most of this blog is going to be about shopping (actually if you don't want to read about shopping just skip to the second last paragraph) I have to say that NYC looked really pretty at this time of year. It was slightly warmer than when I went last time, and there were still a few autumn leaves holding on with all their might. I was lucky enough to not really get much rain, and to have lots of blue sky.
The flight to NYC was relatively easy after a false start to the airport where I headed off in the wrong direction by bus… Oops… lol. My flight was via Charlotte where an ever changing departure time gave me little hope at all of leaving… I think the most concerning/interesting part was when we sat on the tarmac for 30 minutes and the pilot told us we could turn all our electronic equipment back on… I understand that OUR plane wasn't going to be affected, but I did have concerns about all the planes that were NEXT to us as we sat halfway towards the runway… Some how though, we made it and even landed in NYC only an hour late (no small feat for US domestic…)
My first day (back) in NYC I dragged poor Esta out shopping. Actually, EVERY day in NYC I dragged poor Esta out shopping. The poor thing is probably scarred for life. Shopping is like a marathon event for me - somehow I get a second wind and can go for HOURS and HOURS! Another thing which got very scarred during my visit was my credit card, but sod it - I needed some good work clothes to get me through the next 6 months… Shopping was great fun, with loads of Christmas decorations up, and a festive feeling in the air. The Christmas market in Union Square was gorgeous and Es and I tucked into some apple cider and apple cider donuts… I'll not go too into the shopping, but suffice to say there was a lot of it and I spent a lot… Hahaha. The stores who I helped to recover most after the economic downturn would be Sephora and Victoria's Secret. I single handedly moved them from red to black… hahaha
Thursday was Thanksgiving, and after helping Esta a little bit in the kitchen it was time for their traditional jog through the park to ease the oncoming over eating guilt… I made it about 1.5km before my ankle started to play up so I just stretched and watched Es and Steve work hard for me! Hahaha. After the jog it was time to get back into the kitchen with the Macy's parade on in the background. The parade was amazing - and in between stirring the pots (and Es! Lol) and trying to stay out of the way, somehow we managed to get it all done before the family and friends arrived. I met some old friends from my last stay in NYC (Bashir and Maria) and some new ones too (Phaedra). Dinner was amazing, and everyone was impressed with the dishes that Es produced as well as the 3 types of dessert!! It was well past midnight by the time we got to sleep.
Friday we were up at the crack of dawn and off we went to Woodbury Commons. Poor Es and Steve managed to get up at 4:30am to drive me out to the mother of all outlet villages. We arrived really early (around 8am) and still had to queue in stores, and were unsure about our ability to park the car. Armed with left overs from the night before and ready for battle with strong minds we made our way through the stores and found many a bargain. Once again, I have to give testament to Steve and Es' patience as they trailed through store after store with me… At least I bought a lot (you can see all the bags, and yes, they were all mine…) By the time we got home and 9:30pm rolled around I could barely keep my eyes open and fell asleep to Robin Hood playing on the TV.
I'm not going to keep mentioning shopping expeditions - but believe me, they were every day and they were long!!!! Saturday night we hit the town for Portia's promotion night, at a really cool club in the Meat Packing district called Hiro's. The club had 2 girls who did the sheet gymnastics thing (I don't know what to call it, but essentially they hang from the ceiling and do gymnastics whilst balancing and twisting themselves through silk sheets. A few dance offs and some shots with Maria and Khaty before it got really late and it was time to crawl home. Sunday night we went for a quiet evening at home, where once again I was battling to stay awake as the hours of walking and bargain hunting began to take their toll.
Monday was my last day in NYC and it was the day to run around and exchange the few things that I had to, and to pick up the last bits and pieces. I successfully managed to navigate the bus system back to Es and Steve's (I was really impressed I made it with only minimal direction!) and convinced Esta to come and get a manicure and pedicure with me… This would have to be the funniest story of the trip by far… So the total cost of the mani and pedi is $13 US but I only have a $20 and some coins. Wanting to get rid of the coins I give the lady $23 which she says thank you to, and takes to the till. I have a pile of ones ready to give her for her tip (normally around $2-3). As I wait for my change it becomes apparent it's not coming… I look at the lady and say - sorry, I think I gave you $23. Yes she replies. So I need $10 change I say to her. I have NEVER in my life seen someone look so shocked to be asked for change… I mean, the total of the mani and pedi was $13, as if I was going to give a $10 tip ESPECIALLY seeing as it wasn't even that good a job… AND seeing as she can see the one dollar bills on the side for her tip. Anyway, she then proceeds to VERY disgruntledly give me the change, and I give her the ACTUAL tip, and she no longer seems to be that happy with me. (Which is kind of karma as I wasn't really all that happy with her work! Hahaha). At this point she ceases to speak ANY English and just relays to the other people in the shop what has happened in Mandarin. My VERY limited knowledge that I still have from school gives me enough to tell me that she is really angry at me, and can't believe what has happened. Obviously she thinks I can't speak a word of it, so I leave and say thank you, goodbye in Mandarin and walk out. HOW RUDE! Hahaha
From there it is a mad dash back to the house in time to try and cram everything into my cases (now both full to the seams!) and to make sure that I am not overweight. Some how I manage to get everything in with one whole pound to spare! Hahaha. Thanks to Es and Steve I somehow make it to the airport and am put onto a flight which is set to leave an hour before my current flight as there have been some storms in NYC which has been delaying flights… of course, the new flight I am on gets delayed so that I end leaving at the same time as my original flight, but I eventually make it all the way back to London and to the freezing cold!
A big thanks to Es, Steve and Mama Susi for looking after me and being such amazing hosts - I'm looking forward to repaying the favour one day soon! Thanks also for your AMAZING shopping patience, and Steve for carrying all the bags!